Saturday, September 6th, 2008...2:57 am

Shanghai Day One

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The flight was amazingly calm, both in the air and in my mind.  To be honest, my lack of emotion surprised me.  I did not feel nervous.  I did not even feel excited.  I simply felt ready.  The anticipation had been so long coming that being on the plane was a relief.  Today I made good on my all my claims and wishes of the past 8 months of work and waiting. I was moving to China.

During the 12 hour journey my mind continually compared my current emotional state to what I remembered feeling on my previous Shanghai journey the year before.  I kept coming back to the comfort of knowing that I had been before.  This allowed me to relax and be excited about digging in.

The plane landed around 2:00PM and Alex met me at the airport.  It was good to see him.  He had already been there for two weeks and it was relieving to have someone who had already adjusted help me through the airport.  I could recall the exhausting memory of the airport adventure from last year and was thankful to have someone lead the way.

I checked into the hotel.  Nothing fancy, but not a bad set up.  I tried to imagine myself living three months there but couldn’t quite picture it, only time would tell.  We met up with Christophe and headed out for dinner.

I discovered over dinner some unexpected news.  Christophe’s plans had changed.  He was leaving Shanghai in one week to return to Mountain View.  It wasn’t anything he had anticipated and assured me that he would make sure I had a host and a project to maintain me throughout the 3 month internship.

The other unexpected news was that a week later Alex would return, too.  His Visa had run into some problems and his project was attached to Christophe.  There was no reason for him to stay.  It became clear that my experience here was going to be a bit different than I had expected.  I silently prepared myself for a struggle ahead.  I would have to be alert and observant in order to ensure that everything went well.  In some respects I was on my own in a new city and a new company.  I am thankful that there is time for Christophe to impart to us his experiences and advice.  He will send us on our way, but he won’t hold our hands.  For the better, I am sure.

That evening we went to a number of different places together.  Christophe’s sure fire jet lag cure is a night on the town.  Hopping from classy bar, to expat western restaurant, to fancy night club, and finally settling down for a late night street corner meal.  Christophe had become a regular at a specific vendor corner where all the locals knew him by name.  He had been there so frequently Wang, the noodle man, even refused to take his money any more.

I plopped down on the curb with my food and began trying out my Chinese on some midnight snackers. I had a great time, exchanged a few words and headed home for the night.

It was a great introductory day to a city I had been anticipating for the past year.  It even felt a little like home.

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